On the corner of 38th and Broadway in South Los Angeles sits a small charter high school with a big agenda on its hands. After six years in the same building, the warehouse-turned campus plans to move to downtown LA in the fall. But as Kira Brekke reports, the school has a lot of problems to tackle because it leaves South LA.
Jessica Davis has been an advisor at the Film and Theatre Arts Charter High school, or FTA, for the past six years. She says she has really fallen in love with the school’s alternative agenda.
“I feel so blessed to work in this environment,” Davis said.
The school is unique in that there are no class schedules, no bells, and the school is dedicated to their project based learning curriculum, which means, no tests. Also, two days per week the almost 150 students are sent to internships of their choice all over Los Angeles.
The alternative environment is why their potential move to downtown Los Angeles is both exciting and scary for Advisor Jessica.
“When they first told me we were moving to downtown, my heart sank because I was like, ‘No we have this very special thing in this community,’” Davis said. “But the truth is, it’s not possible for us to exist in this neighborhood anymore.”
FTA is in the final negotiating stages of moving to a new building on Wilshire Blvd. in Downtown Los Angeles. Director Steve Bachrach says the school no longer has the resources and space it needs to grow.
“There’s nothing around us. It’s not fertile ground for our model,” Bachrach said.
The people I spoke with seem pretty excited for the move; but, this doesn’t go without worries.
Former student Pedro Torres says he is scared the 5-mile move is going to be a real culture shock for the students.
“A lot of these kids from south LA, they don’t know anything on the other side,” Torres said. “It’s just a different environment than they’re used to.”
It’s a short distance, but with downtown traffic, it could add an hour to the student’s daily trek. FTA says it will provide discounted bus passes for students who can’t afford the increase in transportation costs.
Despite the challenges students will face in adjusting to a new part of town, Bachrach thinks it will be a beneficial move.